Menino launches Boston taxi investigation

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is launching a full-scale review of the city's taxi industry. (Google Images)
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is launching a full-scale review of the city’s taxi industry. (Google Images)

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is launching a top-to-bottom review of the city’s taxi system, after a series of investigative reports in the Boston Globe.

“We have real problems, and I’m very concerned about it,” Menino said during an interview with the Globe. “We’re not going to tolerate this nonsense.”

The Globe series, which began Sunday, including allegations of bribery and tax fraud by the owners of large taxi fleets. The paper says federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation.

Menino plans to hire an expert on the taxi industry to help the city develop changes to cab regulations, including an overhaul of the Boston Police Department’s Hackney Division, which oversees taxi operations.

The mayor also wants state lawmakers to increase the amount of mandatory insurance. According to the Globe, most taxis are only required to have $20,000 of bodily injury insurance — less than half what’s required of bike messenger services, and far less than taxis in other large cities.

Other plans include the creation of an advisory board to help settle disputes between drivers and taxi owners, and a hotline for complaints from both drivers and passengers.

“For some reason we were not getting these allegations,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told the Globe. “And we want to make sure we know of these things.”

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos


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  1. In 1984 I prompted official USDOT letters of warning about numerous partition safety violations. People die, are head injured and facially lacerated by illegal partitions. They “recommended” the Hackney bureau “consider” a requirement for seat belt retention. It was the practice of the partition maker/installer (George Summers of USA taxi) to REMOVE front seat shoulder harnesses at the time of partition installation.

    Hackney allowed George Summers to CHARGE for seat belt reinstallation. THAT is a federal violation. It is just one of several federal safety violations that Summers was warned about.

    I was named as the complaintant in the Hackney bureaus’ letter of warning, by the USDOT. Hackney then told Summers that I was the whistle blower. I was rousted repeatedly by the state police at Logan airport. I was confronted a number of times by irate cab owners who were angry that they had to pay Summers for seat belt re-installation. They were told by Summers that Steve Crowell was the whistle-blower that was costing them all this money for seatbelt replacement. I told them the federal law required Summers to replace the stolen belts at his own expense. Apathetic, ignorant cab owners refused to follow up or complain to anybody.

    The Globe ignored all my letters for 30 years. Shame on them too. Eighteen trauma surgeons have been ignored also.

    “Those partitions create a plastic surgeons’ dream.” Jack Lusk – NYC TLC Chairman 1988-1991

    “It’s a significant safety hazard,” said Dr. Jesse Taylor, a Plastic Surgeon at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, who operated on Marc. He’s seeing a growing number of injuries, related to cab partitions.

    Dr. Rahul Sharma, NYUMC – has worked in several city emergency rooms, is all too familiar with the damage the anti-crime partitions, required since 1994, can cause. “Ask any ER doc in Manhattan, and they will tell you they see it very frequently,” he said. “People have a false sense of security in the backseat of a cab.”

    Dr. Gary Sbordone – Massachusetts Chiropracter – “Could cause complex spinal injuries.”

    Dr. Geoffrey Doughlin – E.R. Director, Jamaica Hospital – ‘Since the partitions act as a second windshield, back seat passengers fall victim to the same type of injuries as people in the front passenger position, the “suicide seat,” ‘

    Dr. Gregory Husk – Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center, “You can’t do this kind of work (Emergency Medicine) without being impressed that the taxicab partition breaks a lot of noses, a lot of lips, a lot of chins.”

    Dr. John Sherman – Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery, New York Hospital, New York City – “The results are uniformly disastrous: patients with head wounds from dividers, fractured noses, lacerations and worse. Last month I saw two patients die from taxi-related injuries.”

    Dr. Arnold Komisar, Dr. Stanley Blaugrund and Dr. Martin Camins – Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC – “Every emergency room in New York is seeing patients injured in taxicabs: three here, four there, six at another hospital, so it’s easy to underestimate the problem,”

    Dr. Stephen Pearlman – Upper East Side facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon – “Gaping soft tissue injuries are also prevalent, since an edge of a partition’s sliding door or its metal track can tear the skin.” “In the most severe instances, this causes “almost an avulsion” of the nose.”

    Dr. Paul Lorenc – NYC Plastic Surgeon “Crushed noses, fractured cheekbones and eye sockets, and “stellate,” or burst lacerations, are among the most common injuries suffered when a passenger is hurled into the clear partition.”

    Dr. Kai Sturmann – Acting Chairman, Emergency Department, Beth Israel – “I would like to see back-seat air bags.”

    Dr. Marc Melrose – Emergency Physician, Beth Israel Medical Center, Manhattan – “Cabs don’t have to get into an accident for people to be hurt. The cab stops short and you go flying into the screen with the handles and bolts and that metal change thing. It’s dangerous.”

    Dr. Talmor, Dr. Barie, Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Hoffman, Department of Surgery, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, NY. In 1996 four surgeons from the Department of Surgery, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center released a report, this is a review of it.

    “Craniofacial injuries resulting from taxicab accidents in New York City”

    Taxicab accidents are a common occurrence in New York City. This review was undertaken to characterize the nature of craniofacial injuries that result from taxicab accidents

    Data were collected on 16 patients who required admission to trauma or plastic and reconstructive surgery services, after sustaining craniofacial injury as a result of a taxicab accidents.

    Front-end deceleration collisions were the most common mechanism of injury.

    Fifty-six percent of the patients were thrown against the bulletproof, Plexiglas driver safety divider and sustained an injury most commonly to the anterior midface.

    Both bony and soft tissue injuries were common in the entire group.

    “Given the high incidence of craniofacial injury, appropriate safety standards for taxicabs must be initiated, including the reevaluation of the utility of the safety divider”

    Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH (American Council on Science and Health) President, “The deaths and injuries attributed to taxicab accidents are highly preventable.

    Dr. Ralph Upchurch, chief of emergency medicine at Somerville Hospital, said not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a cab can be especially dangerous because of the plastic divider between the front and back seats.

    Dr. Seth Manoach, lead author of the report, said ‘The plexiglas partition that seperates the front and back of the cab, protruding change dish, and metal border can cause serious injury in an accident.’ He urged taxi passengers to buckle up “Sit in one of the seats with shoulder and lap belts. The middle seats don’t have them and during a front-end collision, your head is going to come forward and hit the barrier.”

    From – 12/29/98 New YorkTimes article about zero seat belt usage observed by N.Y. Univer. Research Team findings 4/97-8/97

    Diane McGrath-McKechnie, Chairwoman of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission – “The experience of New York City absolutely does not support the notion that partitions have increased the number of passenger injuries.” “We are well aware of the potential dangers of passengers not wearing their seat belts hitting partitions in short-stop circumstances.”

    “As officer safety and wellness is of the utmost importance to the International Asssn. Of Chiefs of Police you can be sure that we will continue to study all aspects of this issue.” Erin Vermilye 2/25/2013

    Frank Armstrong, Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Enforcement Section Director, 6/22/84 “Dear Sir: It has come to the attention of this office that you may be in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 by the manner in which you are installing partitions in taxicabs and/or police cruisers.“

    Matthew Daus – TLC Chairman – “These cars and the partitions that are in them are 100 percent safe,”

    Now, some feel that the minimum compulsory liability limits are too low for the extent of losses sustained by taxi occupants. Will we do the same as NYC did about this? Will we retain the partition hazards and raise the liability limits? Or will we finally address why taxi losses are so high? 12,000 children are hospitalized every year in NYC from taxi crashes.